Album Review: clipping. – Splendor & Misery

By Alex Sherry, Contributor

[Sub Pop; 2016]

Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “Long Way Away,” “True Believer,” “Story 5”

In today’s rap world, mainstream artists create tough personas to match their hard in your face verses and beats. Whether it’s Drake telling us how many enemies he has or Lil Wayne saying he’s a sucker for pain, what you hear is what you get with most popular rap tracks. But L.A. based experimental hip-hop group clipping. are not afraid to challenge the norm. Splendor & Misery, the group’s third and most ambitious album yet, leaves behind everything we expect from rap music, delivering an experience like none other.

The feelings of lifelessness, loneliness, and isolation are very apparent. The sense of drifting through an endless void while in your final hours is presented in a cinematic and chilling way. Flashes of the past spark at points in tracks like “Long Way Away” and “Story 5” only for you to be brought back to the aggressive and mechanical reality in songs like “Air ‘Em Out.”

 The best parts of the album are the subtle details in the interludes and between tracks. Static can be heard throughout the whole album, occasionally soviet-era radio transmissions break the white noise and create an amazing, but unsettling atmosphere. Daveed Diggs, frontman and rapper of the group, takes a back seat in much of the record putting the focus on the mood created by William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes.

If you are looking for an album like CLPPNG or the recently released Wriggle EP, you won’t find that here. While there is plenty of respect for the amount of ambition this record has, it is a slight step back from clipping.’s previous albums. They were able to deliver just as deep of a message, but had songs that were easier to listen to.

Gone is the harsh, but real commentary on street life from the perspective of someone trapped. Splendor & Misery is otherworldly, at times even enlightening showing flashes of brilliance and freedom. This record shows that clipping. isn’t grounded anymore: they’ve shot for the stars, leaving this world behind.

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